How do you like playing the octatrack live?


The octatrack was the first piece of gear that made me feel as though I could play a whole live set with just it, and maybe a mixer and some pedals. That being said I’m not sure how interesting it would be for people to watch, I feel like it sort of situates you somewhere in between a dj set and a live electronic act. For those who have experience with the oct live what has it been like for you?

I feel I could probably only manage the oct and maybe one more drum machine/synth before things get too complicated but I’m wondering if I should add a second piece just for the performance aspect, and maybe free up some extra tracks for other uses.

Octatrack On Stage

I’m about to be in the same dilemma. I’ve been performing with an experimental synth collective called Volt Divers who’s only rule is “no computers allowed” (to weed out the laptop DJs.) Most of the guys and gals that perform have Modular systems in one case, with various other little boxes, but since I don’t have a Modular kit, the last couple of performances I’ve been dragging out my Moog Sub 37, Korg MS-20 mini, Arp Odyssey and a couple of Korg SQ-1 sequencers and the Volca Sample. But that is just way too much to bring out and to try to sequence/play together for just a 15 minute set.

So to slim down and simplify my setup, I thought a Waldorf Blofeld (which I bought 2 days ago) and something to sequence it would be perfect. Luckily, I was able to also buy the Octatrack yesterday (finally! Been wanting one since they came out!) So my plan is to use just these two units live, being that I can sequence 8 parts of the Blofeld plus another 8 tracks of the Octatrack’s own samples… that’s more power and sound than my previous setup!

… but it too got me thinking if the audience would think I’m cheating with all this glorious sound coming out of only two little boxes. I don’t want to look like I’m doing a DJ set. Maybe I’ll bring the OP-1 as well for some improvised lead lines? I really want to bring my Arp Odyssey for that, but then I’m back to hauling out a two-tiered stand, and I really am trying to keep this as simple as possible.

Of course, I still need to learn this Octatrack before my performance in two weeks…


The fact that dj’s and laptop performers are successful suggests to me that most of the audience doesn’t care what we are doing, they care about what they hear and feel. Still, I like doing something and I’ve come up with a few ways to keep myself active. (I don’t have my live set completed yet, so I can’t promise any of these are really entertaining for the audience.)

  1. I like to have the kick drum on its own track, 1 bar long, so that I can manually change the pattern at times.

  2. I space my Scenes out with a blank between each one. While performing I can copy the current scene, paste it to a blank one, and change some of it’s parameters. I can change these parameters while the scene is selected or move to that scene afterwards, either one can sound good.

  3. The delay stutter mode can be fun. I recall when I was watching videos to gather info on the OT, it was fun to watch people using that mode. Dataline for example.

  4. I may eventually get some kind of synth with a built in keyboard to play. That, or hook something like a Blofeld to the OT and play it using Chromatic mode.


I think that OT is like a computer. In fact, it’s a dedicated computer. During my last gig, people came to me and asked “what are you doing ?” For them it was nothing else than dj mix.

When I play with other gear, the multitude of cables show them that it’s electronic set and not dj one. It brings a kind of mystery around my actions that only makes me shine to myself.

But in fact who cares about distinction between the two activities except us (electro gear fan)

In live music the most important is how the public feels our intervention. Were we pertinent or not, in this place at this moment ? Other considerations are only personal appreciation of us and our action. Kind of nombrilism.

So, finaly, I try to have fun and not to be irrelevant.

To answer the initial question, I use OT in total improvisation, merging and melting different sounds in view to obtain a cheelout ish/ deep industrial housish thing.

Havfun guys


I think just not having a laptop on stage gives it a bit more credibility, even if you are essentially hitting play and letting it play through your arrangements.

Though regardless of if you are using a laptop or dedicated synths/sequencers, most of the audience needs to be able to hear an audible response to the motions you are making. If you are twisting a knob, hitting a pad, playing on a keyboard, it needs to have a relative apparent sound, otherwise there is the disconnect. The more you can make it seem like you are the one making all the sounds, the more live it seems.


Making electrnic music is not basically a visual activity. Or it becomes a performance, like guitarist playing guitar heroes, that takes specific and spectacular attitudes.

Electronics gig have barely no visual interest (video, lights and pyrotechnical effects aren’t music, but visual spectacles).

People are there whether to listen whether dance of being in a nice place with nice sounds and friends.

So… We have just to play without thinking of what people see. In this way of thinking, I play, has soon has I can in non festive places, like artistic exposition, or when my friends makes party. I try to be like the pianist in the far end of the pub.

  1. I have ways a track with kick chain and another with sd and clap.
  2. I then dispose of 6 tracks on wich I import samples with no preparation, just using headphones and cue to select them.
  3. All the power of OT possibilities and my feeling makes the music appears and evolve.

Last live in a friend party, have been whistled by people during the first 15 min play. I laughed with them, it forced me to be better. Then, the hour that follow they really appreciate. It was a very good happening.


You dont think guitar bands use that stuff?

Playing live is a performance, not sure why you’re trying separate music from visuals in that arena?
To many people try to do it all by themselves and
that IS boring to watch,
as they have to concentrate so much on the music.


I think there is something about having more musicians on stage where he crowd can actually see the interaction between members. For me as I did some basic research on what different solo artists or electronic groups (non-traditional bands) were doing I felt like Mount Kimbie had a really nice balance of live and electronic instruments that allowed them to actually play most parts live, I like Four Tet’s solo setup which has instruments that gear his sets with having more of a live feel in that the songs won’t be played actually the same twice, and then if no one else has watched this yet red bull music academy has Henrick Schwartz and Bugge Westleoffe (dj and jazz piano player) both using ableton live in an improvised set. There is something you see in the room with those two playing I haven’t seen in any other live acts.


You’re right.
Maybe I haven’t been enough precise.
I don’t want to criticise the spectacular aspect of gig.
I have a great memory of Amon Tobin live with is wall of fx and video. I was very impressed.
The thing I want to say is that when you go to an electro concert, that’s terrible to say, but see a person turning knobs or plug jack, that’s not really interesting (except for us, who are interested in the technical part of the gig, but has said my friends, I’m electro music geek). Major part of public don’t even know what their favorite musicians really do on stage. So, that’s what I want to say, the most important is the music.
Surely, with miscellaneous visual spectacle, the gig will be maybe interesting. But the music is the more important.
It’s the same thing when you go to classical piano concert.
The pianist is very far from you, so the performance is auditive and not visual. One more time the most important is the music and the feeling the musician produce.
So, that’s not important to know if it’s a dj set or an OT set, wich is near the same i think, the sole music is important.
Sorry, but it’s difficult for me to write in globish Anglos axon language. So, sometime it’s not easy to explain myself.


I have a friend call Jansky beat how have a very good gig with only OP1. He call is gig Jean Sébastien is Bach.

Survolt and fun concert, and people really enjoyed see him play and improvising with public.

It’s the only exception I know.


The key thing on that topic is to get the right spirit and flow in your performance depending on the specific expectation off the audience. Sound and Visuals.

The challenge and problem is how to get this spirit and flow on the OT + A4, Virus, Blofeld,…

I use the scene technique with parameter locks and track volume control because the OT do not store track mutes in a pattern (a shame!!!). I never use live sampling in a live performance. For my view sampling is not very intuitive on the OT.

What is your approach to get the flow over time in your music?


Not enough leopard straps in the electronic music community.


Elektron needs to release an Analog Keytar 4


Just starting a thread about using the the Octatrack on stage. I have been an electron user since 2008. Currently touring (2018 into 2019) with a new Electronic/Industrial Cyberpunk band called Syn Nine. Right now mostly using the the octatrack for mid sequencing, effects, and playback. Any tips and tricks out there for steadily ramping up use of the Its capabilities on stage?


OT and MiniNova in my go kit. I own an OT, MD UW, MiniNova, Moog Sub37, Access Virus TI, Microkorg.


I’ve been using it off and on live since 2011 or 2012 maybe? It’s been a process of slowly uncovering the layers of depth. I think my biggest advice for live implementation is just to not overstep beyond what you truly understand. If you’re out of your wheelhouse, things get ugly a lot quicker live. That applies to anything live, but I’d argue it’s more pronounced with the Octatrack. There is so much one can do with the box and still feel like you’re just scratching the surface. Some people feel like they have to do it all, all the time. You don’t though :slight_smile:


One of the coolest thing with OT is the slices.
Playing them in Slice mode is really nice.
And then you can still plock retrig/retrig time, reverse with rate, or plock random slices…
I mostly play the OT without anything prepared but the slices on the samples chosen as Static slots.

I like to play OT with some FX on cue out, or different FX on both stereo outs. Empress Reverb and Meris Polymoon are my favorite weapon these days. But I also consider using my RNC on Cue Outs with sidechain coming from the Main Outs (or Headphones out)… Should yield to interesting results :slight_smile:

And lastly, you haven’t mentioned the crossfader… Don’t you use it ? If not, you have the huge luck to still have a whole area to explore further !
Even while improvising with a rather unprepared OT, you can set Scenes extremely fast.
And then benefit from the most powerful interaction device ever implemented on an Elektron machine !


My biggest tip for stage use is gaffa tape. Tape the power cable to the back of the unit. Elektron boxes still do not have a cable lock and that just makes no sense at all to me. When it happens to you, you will curse yourself for not using a bit of gaffa tape.


@SHS did this :thup:

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Good tips. Thanks.